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Policy Platforms, Campaign Spending and Voter Participation

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  • Helios Herrera
  • David K Levine
  • Cesar Martinelli

Abstract

We model electoral competition between two parties in a winner-take-all election. Parties choose strategically first their platforms and then their campaign spending under aggregate uncertainty about voters' preferences. We use the model to examine why campaign spending in the United States has increased at the same time that politics has become more polarized. We find that a popular explanation -- more accurate targeting of campaign spending -- is not consistent. While accurate targeting may lead to greater spending, it also leads to less polarization. We argue that a better explanation is that voters preferences have become more volatile from the point of view of parties at the moment of choosing policy positions. This both raises campaign spending and increases polarization. It is also consistent with the observation that voters have become less committed to the two parties.

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Paper provided by David K. Levine in its series Levine's Working Paper Archive with number 618897000000000935.

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Date of creation: 17 Mar 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levarc:618897000000000935

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  1. Stephen Coate, 2001. "Political Competition with Campaign Contributions and Informative Advertising," NBER Working Papers 8693, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Eddie Dekel & Matthew O. Jackson & Asher Wolinsky, 2004. "Vote Buying," Discussion Papers, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science 1386, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  3. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
  4. Christian Schultz, 2003. "Strategic Campaigns and Redistributive Politics," EPRU Working Paper Series, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics 03-03, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  5. Prat, Andrea, 1999. "Campaign Advertising and Voter Welfare," CEPR Discussion Papers 2152, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Enriqueta Aragones & Zvika Neeman, 1994. "Strategic Ambiguity in Electoral Competition," Discussion Papers, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science 1083, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  7. David Austen-Smith, 1987. "Interest groups, campaign contributions, and probabilistic voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 54(2), pages 123-139, January.
  8. Barry Nalebuff & Roni Shachar, 1997. "Follow The Leader: Theory And Evidence On Political Participation," Yale School of Management Working Papers, Yale School of Management ysm57, Yale School of Management.
  9. Lindbeck, Assar & Weibull, Jorgen W., 1993. "A model of political equilibrium in a representative democracy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 195-209, June.
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